When first starting The Crucible the thing I was fairly unnerved. Almost immediately I noticed the concept of the ‘private life’ of a citizen becoming entwined with the affairs of the state. Salem being a theocracy relied on the same source for moral guidelines as it did for laws: The Bible. This makes the private affairs of the citizen the business of the system of government as sinning was considered a crime. Private life seems almost demonized as an individual’s sins and soul are deemed public concerns for a sinner would be a threat to the state. Even being associated with deviance from the strict adherence to the Bible could result in destruction of reputation as seen with Reverend Parris and his ties to Betty and Abigail. These girls are alleged to have practiced witchcraft in the forest and because of his association to Betty and Abigail, Reverend Parris fears his enemies will drive him out of ministerial office. State officials patrol the town asking people to list their activities making it nearly impossible to obtain privacy. As well as the patrols, the citizens of Salem themselves act as spies (of sorts), spreading rumors of potential transgressions of their neighbours. The whole foundation of civilian life in Salem seems to be based off paranoia and intolerance of others. It becomes apparent early on in the Crucible that to disagree with the state is to disagree with God, and through this a sense of paranoia grows for one never knows if one is being watched or what activity might be considered sinful to someone else.
Heart of Darkness was one of the most interesting books I had to read in high school. My English teacher brought in her friend, who had taught/studied the book for many years, to go through the book chapter by chapter. He explained a lot about the book and Conrad’s life, information that was all briefly covered in lecture this week. Listening to Monday’s lecture really brought back my interest in this novella and its ambiguities. The thing that struck me the most was the paradox of human progress. The fact that what we saw as immense industrial progress came at the cost hundreds of thousands of lives shows a sort of moral regression. Even today for the mass production of all the revolutionary technology being created, millions of people are being mistreated and forced to work for next-to-nothing in deplorable conditions. Many consider people today as morally or intellectually greater than people from centuries past, but we fall into the same patterns and pitfalls. We are morally no different than the colonizers of the past, only now we exploit poorer countries with sweatshops, the sex trade…etc. The same lack of morality applies as we are still taking advantage of resources and the labour of those who have no other choice. Like what was said in lecture, the heart or darkness is not necessarily found in a foreign, unknown land but in those who exploit people less fortune then themselves, and those who stand idly by and let them do it. Can we be worse then the era of European colonization?